If you believe what’s floating around the internet (and why wouldn’t you?) then we’re close to seeing a brand new i-device from Apple, to be announced less than a month from now. Referred to by the press as the “iPad Mini,” the device would be a tablet computer just like the iPad, but smaller. The rumors are strong with this one, and we think we know why: because a device like the iPad Mini would make a lot of sense, especially for younger users.
By most accounts, the iPad Mini would be almost identical to the current iPad, except for being zapped by a shrink-ray. At 7.85 inches diagonally, it would maintain the screen ratio of the iPad, thus making apps and other software compatible between the devices without too much work. So, if it’s just like the iPad that’s already available…why bother?
Students – Thanks to the rumored September release date for the iPad Mini, it’s easy to imagine it establishing itself as a back-to-school essential, especially on the shopping list of highschool and college students. A super-portable iPad, coupled with some inventive apps, would lighten the load of students who currently haul laptops from class to class, but can’t afford full-size iPads. It would also be less likely to get dropped and destroyed, thanks to the smaller size and lessened weight. And if it did get busted up, it still wouldn’t be as expensive to fix or replace.
Kids – The best way to keep a kid’s tiny mitts off of your iPad is to hand them one of their own. There are so many great children’s apps and games in the iTunes Store, it’s easy to understand why youngsters love iPads and beg for them on a regular basis. However, it’s not always reasonable to hand a small child a $400 device. An iPad Mini would have a still-expensive but slightly more kid-friendly price, and would be easier for kids to handle, too. If you’re up on your Apple trivia, you know Steve Jobs himself spoke about the (im-)possibility of a 7-inch tablet back in 2010, saying it’d be “useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size.” Kids not only have smaller fingers, they also have sharper eyes, and they’re also not conditioned to be biased against small screens in the way adults who poo-poo watching video on a cellphone are.
Booklovers – An iPad Mini would be smaller and lighter than the iPad and be easier to hold in one hand. This makes it perfect for reading books, a function that the iPad is sometimes too heavy for, but has been a selling point for other 7-inch tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7. The iPad Mini also becomes immediately more portable, fitting into a greater number of bags, purses, and pockets, and appealing to a segment of people who might otherwise not consider carrying a whole computer with them at all times.
iPad Enviers/First-Time Buyers – While we think the full-sized iPad is a much better device than its 7-inch competitors like the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7–both of which sell for $199–it’s also much more expensive. This has made it easy for Amazon or Google to market their tablets as cheaper iPad alternatives. But if Apple can make an iPad Mini at a similar price point, the competition quickly becomes less appealing–especially when the iPad Mini would have access to such an incredible app library. The iPad Mini would be a great device for anyone with iPad envy who can’t or won’t spend $399 on an iPad 2 or $499 on a current gen iPad. Seeing what all the fuss about would immediately become as more affordable experiment.
Alexei Bochenek is a lifelong tech nerd & film buff based in Los Angeles. When he’s not playing with his phone, it’s because the movie has started. Shhhhh!